Released in March of 2006, Band of Horses debut Everything All the Time made good on the
promise hinted at in their early shows and demos. The band went from early shows opening for
friends Iron & Wine, to playing on The Late Show with David Letterman by July, and being nominated
as one of ten finalists (along with Joanna Newsom, Beirut, Tom Waits, and, the eventual winner,
Cat Power) for the Shortlist Music Prize for that same year. And the record was well-received
critically, with celebratory press in Spin, Entertainment Weekly, NY Times, Harp, Billboard, Pitchfork,
Magnet, NME, Uncut, and a slew of others. Not a bad place to start.
For a lot of reasons, Cease to Begin is the perfect title for this new record. Not only do the
songs themselves weave this theme through the record, but stopping and starting anew is also
a reflection of the past year and a half for Band of Horses. Though they worked with producer
Phil Ek again, as they did on Everything All the Time, much has changed between the fairly
recent then and now. There have been band members who have come and gone, including Mat
Brooke, who left the band to pursue other interests and his own band. For core members Ben
Bridwell, Rob Hampton and Creighton Barrett, there has been a move from Seattle, WA to Mt.
Pleasant, SC, a relocation that had been planned for some time so that they could all be closer
to their families. And, close friends and family have come and gone some far too early. Necessarily
shot through with these experiences, the songs on Cease to Begin are strikingly beautiful, if less
elliptical and more straightforward, with more sophisticated arrangements than the last record.
Band of Horses now rest in the hands of South Carolina tenant Ben Bridwell following the departure of his right-hand man Mat Brooke, who bolted to form Grand Archives following the 2006 inauguration Everything All the Time, and the impassioned Bridwell validates out of the blocks, leading off the follow-up album with "Is There a Ghost," an exquisite chunk of pure-pop bliss. With a voice that lands somewhere between the euphoria of Brian Wilson and the anguish of the late Chris Bell (Big Star), Bridwell (and core mates Rob Hampton and Creighton Barrett) appears a modern archetype behind a playlist that teeters among tender ("No One's Gonna Love Me," "Window Blues"), twang ("Marry Song," "Detlef Schrempf"), and turbulent ("Cigarettes, Wedding Bands," the aforementioned "Is There a Ghost"). Using the same producer and regal m.o. as on the debut, Cease punctuates its magnitude among Sub Pop's top-drawer power elite (The Shins and Iron & Wine), asserting this Band of Horses' fast-rising run for the roses. --Scott Holter